Since Art Herstory’s September 2019 post about new books focusing on history’s women artists, several new titles have been published. We list those that have come to our attention, mostly we quote the publisher’s description. If you know of other titles that should be on this list, please let us know by comment or by email (Erika@artherstory.net).
- Artemisia, by Alex Connor. Publisher: Fantastic Fiction (2019).
“Three seventeenth-century notebooks are left to Cornelia Stein in London. They tell the story of the most infamous female artist who ever lived. The notebooks interest not only museums but spark a feeding frenzy in the art world, collectors desperate to obtain the priceless artefact—whatever the cost.
And so the lives of two women—one from seventeenth century, one from the twenty-first century—mesh. Artemisia talks of sex, triumph and death, as she fights with her patrons and protects her family, and at the same time Cornelia Stein finds herself in unexpected danger as she defies the male bastions of the art world to ensure Artemisia’s legacy.”
The Girl with the Leica, by Helen Janeczek, translated by Ann Goldstein. English language publisher: Europa Editions (2019).
This novel is based on the true story of Gerda Taro, a German-Jewish war photographer, anti-fascist activist, artist and innovator. Together with her partner, the Hungarian Endre Friedmann, she was one half of the alias Robert Capa, widely considered to be the twentieth century’s greatest war and political photographer. She was killed while documenting the Spanish Civil War and tragically became the first female photojournalist to be killed on a battlefield. In the original Italian version, The Girl with the Leica won the Strega Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award and the Bagutta Prize; and it was a finalist for the Campiello Prize.
Paula Rego: The Art of Story, by Deryn Rees-Jones. Publisher: Thames & Hudson, (2019).
Paula Rego is an artist of astonishing power with a unique and unforgettable aesthetic. Taking its cues from the artist, this fascinating study invites us to reflect on the complexities of storytelling on which Rego’s work draws, emphasizing both the stories the pictures tell, and how it is that they are told.
Deryn Rees-Jones sets interpretations of the pictures in the context of Rego’s personal and artistic development across sixty years. We see how Rego’s art intersects with the work of both the literary and the visual, and come to understand her rich and textured layering of reference: her use of the Old Masters; fiction, fairy tales and poems; the folk traditions of Rego’s native Portugal; and her wider engagement with politics, feminism and more. The result is a highly original work that addresses urgent and topical questions of gender, subject and object, self and other.
Non-Fiction for Young Readers
- Heroic Women of the Art World, by Eugene H. Pool. Publisher: Tumblehome Books (2019).
“Other than a scattered few, women have not often been portrayed among the world’s great artists, especially in books for young readers. This book begins to correct the omission, with portraits of fifteen daring women from the Renaissance to the present.”
- Visible: Plautilla Nelli and her Last Supper Restored, by multiple authors. Publisher: Advancing Women Artists with The Florentine Press (2019).
“Plautilla Nelli, who was a virtual unknown more than a dozen restorations ago, now comes into her own, as her 21-foot masterwork is finally on public view. Pre-restoration, [the Last Supper‘s] home was in the Friars’ private chambers at Santa Maria Novella, now it is VISIBLE in the museum complex. A publication that spotlights the various phases of our four-year restoration of Nelli’s Last Supper—readers can gain insight on Nelli’s life and times and discover her painterly style as well receive an overview of archival studies and recent discoveries made whilst the painting was ‘eye level’.”
Voyaging Out: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties, by Carolyn Trant. Publisher, Thames & Hudson (2019).
“In this revealing chronicle of a fascinating period of social change, artist Carolyn Trant examines the history of women artists in modern Britain, filling in the gaps in traditional art histories. Introducing the lives and works of a rich network of neglected women artists, Voyaging Out sets these alongside such renowned presences as Barbara Hepworth, Laura Knight, and Winifred Nicholson. In an era of radical activism and great social and political change, women forged new relationships with art and its institutions. Such change was not without its challenges, and with acerbic wit Trant delves into the gendered makeup of the avant-garde and the tyranny of artistic ‘isms.'”
Read a review of this book in The Guardian.
- Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, by Jan Marsh and Peter Funnell. Publisher, the National Portrait Gallery, London (2019).
“For far too long the male protagonists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement have dominated accounts of this revolution in British art. This book aims to redress the balance in showing just how engaged and central women were to the endeavour—as the subjects of the images themselves, certainly, but also in their production.”
- Radical Women: Jessica Dismorr and her Contemporaries, by Alicia Foster. Publisher: Lund Humphries (2019)
“Radical Women tells an original story of British modernism from the perspective of Jessica Dismorr’s career, along with the women artists—some famous, some lesser-known—she worked and exhibited with … Bringing a web of fascinating connections to light for the first time, this publication provides a fresh interpretation of a pioneering period and the role women played within it.”
A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana catalogue (English; also available in Spanish). Publisher: Museo del Prado (2019).
“Catalogue of the exhibition A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid from October 22th, 2019 to February 2nd, 2020.”
Louise Bourgeois: : An Intimate Portrait, by Jean-Francois Jaussaud. Publisher: Laurence King Publishing (2019).
“This book offers a rare glimpse inside the private world of Louise Bourgeois, one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. … This is a must-have addition to any serious admirer of Louise Bourgeois as well as a fascinating entry point for those just discovering her groundbreaking explorations of the family, sexuality, bodies, death, and the unconscious.”
Julie Mehretu, by Christine Y. Kim and Rujeko Hockley. Publisher: Prestel (2019).
Over the past twenty-five years Julie Mehretu has emerged as a major force in American art. This full-scale retrospective monograph of her work traces the development of one of America’s most celebrated abstract painters. Each stage of her oeuvre is represented here, including works from her landmark exhibition Drawing into Painting, the twelve-panel intaglio, Auguries, and the paintings she created as a result of time spent in Africa and the Middle East. Accompanying these images are essays by leading curators, scholars, and writers. Long overdue, this magnificent volume pays tribute to an artist whose work and process intermingle in a unique and important examination of painting, history, geopolitics, and displacement.
One of Britain’s most important contemporary painters, Celia Paul has written a reflective, intimate memoir of her life as an artist. Self-Portrait tells the artist’s story in her own words, drawn from early journal entries as well as memory, of her childhood in India and her days as a art student at London’s Slade School of Fine Art; of her intense decades-long relationship with the older esteemed painter Lucian Freud and the birth of their son; of the challenges of motherhood, the unresolvable conflict between caring for a child and remaining commited to art; of the “invisible skeins between people,” the profound familial connections Paul communicates through her paintings of her mother and sisters; and finally, of the mystical presence in her own solitary vision of the world around her. With over seventy illustrations, Self-Portrait is a powerful, liberating evocation of a life and of a life-long dedication to art.
More posts on new books about women artists
Ten Intriguing Books About Remarkable Women Artists, guest post by Carol M. Cram